The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has asked the Trump administration to jump-start the Rural Housing Loan Program, which has been unable to process mortgage applications since the partial federal government shutdown began nearly a month ago.
After learning that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD) – which operates the loan program through the Rural Housing Service – decided to temporarily recall employees of the Farm Service Agency to provide certain services to farmers and ranchers, NAR asked federal officials to also assign staff to process stalled loan applications during the shutdown.
“What we’re trying to do is piggyback on a policy that the USDA is implementing to get farm loans processed within a short time frame,” says Megan Booth, NAR director of housing policy. “We’re asking them to supplement that by adding a home loan specialist to review Rural Housing Service loans that are already in the pipeline. Longer term, we’re asking them to keep some staff on board reviewing home loans during the shutdown.”
The Rural Housing Loan Program helps people in rural areas with limited incomes who can’t qualify for traditional mortgages. The program guarantees that participating private-sector lenders will be repaid if borrowers default, providing an incentive for lenders to make loans. In some rural markets, Rural Housing Service (RHS)-backed loans are the only affordable mortgages available.
Unlike the mortgage programs run by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which permit private-sector lenders to sign off on mortgage applications, the Rural Housing Loan Program does not allow lenders to close loans without approval from Rural Housing Service staff. Congress has authorized the Department of Agriculture to delegate that responsibility to lenders, but the agency has not yet done so.
Source: Realtor Magazine. Writers Sam Silverstein and Robert Freedman contributed to this article.
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